Friday, January 17, 2014

.....the cigarette-smoking, Scotch-drinking ladies man played by Dean Martin.

Hey pallies, likes fewer and fewer Dino-'lerts are comin' up from our pallies at google, but likes every now and then a true Dino-treat does come up and today's Dino-post is one of 'em.  Today we takes all youse Dino-holics to a new-to-ilovedinomartin-pad tagged "Classic Film and TV Cafe," where Administrator Rick just shared  his wise words on Helmer numero quatre, "The Wrecking Crew."

Tagged, "Dean Martin Ogles the Ladies in 'The Wrecking Crew,'" likes we love how Rick tags this Dino-flick a "guilty pleasure" and further states, " Guilty pleasures don't get much guiltier than this fourth entry in Dean Martin's Matt Helm series."   Our newest Dino-devotee has scribed a remarkable review of said big screen Dino-effort and we knows you will enjoys readin' all of Rick's patter.

We here at ilovedinomartin are particually smitten with Rick's Dino-description of Helm, and we couldn't resist taggin' our post with it....."cigarette-smoking, Scotch-drinking ladies man played by Dean Martin."
And likes we knows that Rick is truly very very Dino-wise when he states, "......A follow-up, Murderers Row, appeared later that year. It's probably the best of the four films."  We simply couldn't 'gree with him more.

Well, likes 'nough said by us, simply enjoys readin' Mr. Rick's ruminatious review of the last of the spyster Matt Helm flicks.  We salute Mr. Rick of  "Classic Film and TV Cafe," for addin' to the Dino-devotion of his readership by sharin' this total total guilty Dino-pleasure with 'em.  To checks this out in it's original format, simply clicks on the tag of this here Dino-gram.  Always Dino, DMP


Dean Martin Ogles the Ladies in "The Wrecking Crew"

I was in the mood for a guilty pleasure recently and up popped The Wrecking Crew(1968) on TCM. Guilty pleasures don't get much guiltier than this fourth entry in Dean Martin's Matt Helm series. With spy movies all the rage in the 1960s, Columbia tried to posture Helm as a poor man's James Bond, Well, sort of. The Helm pictures were actually spoofs--not clever ones like Our Man Flint--but broad tongue-in-cheek efforts. That approach suited Dean Martin, who appeared as the turtle-necked protagonist while still doing his weekly variety TV series on NBC.

The plot resembles Goldfinger with Matt's agency, Intelligence and Counter Espionage (ICE), sending the secret agent to recover $1 billion in stolen gold bullion. Villain Count Contini (Nigel Green) plans to flood the financial markets, thus devaluing the economies of Great Britain and the U.S. Throw in some chases, fistcuffs, and plenty of pulchritude and you have The Wrecking Crew.

Dean sniffs Sharon Tate.
It's a far cry from Donald Hamilton's 1960 novel, the second of 27 Matt Helm spy thrillers. Indeed, the only resemblance is that Helm's cover was as a photographer in both the book and film. Otherwise, Hamilton's tough-minded hero had little in common with the cigarette-smoking, Scotch-drinking ladies man played by Dean Martin.

Martin's film series kicked off in 1966 with The Silencers, which co-starred Stella Stevens as Matt's klutzy cohort (the poster proclaimed: "Girls, Gags & Gadgets! The best spy thriller of Nineteen Sexty-Sex!"). A follow-up, Murderers Row, appeared later that year. It's probably the best of the four films, simply on the basis of a cast featuring Ann-Margret and an over-the-top Karl Malden as the bad guy. Still, the formula was wearing thin by the time The Ambushers(with Senta Berger) was released a year later.

Elke Sommer's "come hither" look.
What redeems The Wrecking Crew is its cast. Tina Louise and Nancy Kwan have to little to do other than look glamorous (or, in Kwan's case, also manage a few karate kicks). However, Elke Sommer and Sharon Tate are perfectly cast. Sommer's European sultriness poses a perfect counterpoint to Martin's lecherous looks. In addition, she has a grand time playing a villain and (spoiler alert!) "dies in perfect beauty" (as she described in her interview with the Cafe). In contrast, Tate mixes kooky charm with buckets of sex appeal as Matt's female sidekick. I'm not sure that Tate would have evolved into a major star, but she shows her potential as an appealing comedienne in The Wrecking Crew.

While the karate fights leave much to be desired, they were still choreographed by a young Bruce Lee (granted, he didn't have much to work with). Also, if you look closely at the henchmen in the House of 7 Joys fight, you may notice Chuck Norris (in his film debut).

Dean takes a look at Sharon.
Although the closing credits ofThe Wrecking Crew promise a fifth installment to be called The Ravagers, another Matt Helm film was never made. Weak boxoffice receipts doomed the franchise and Martin, tired of the series, wanted out. Sharon Tate's murder, which occurred just a year after The Wrecking Crew, also cast a shadow over the series.

Still, decades later, the spirit of Dean Martin's Matt Helm movies lives on. It's hard to watch Mike Myers in his Austin Powers spy spoofs without concluding that he's channeling a lot of Matt Helm.


Danny G. said...

Gots to agree...Austin Powers owes MUCH to Mr. Matt Helm!

dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie, likes Danny-o, might I say Austin owes EVERYTHIN' to our Dino...but then likes don't we all?
Keeps lovin', keeps diggin' our most beloved Dino! And, thanks ever so much for your faitfulness to our Dino through your serenade mission!